Richard Bruton, Bullshit For Breakfast

By Luke Ming Flanagan

I was invited to a ‘breakfast briefing’ in Brussels this morning by Minister Richard Bruton on the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership – TTIP as it’s known, though we all know, it’s about neither trade nor partnership, it’s simply about increasing profits for the major corporations.

The meeting opened with Minister Bruton outlining the benefits of TTIP. After he spoke we were asked did we have any questions. There were three other MEPS present, all from Minister Bruton’s own party in Ireland, Fine Gael. None piped up so I decided to put a few questions I had prepared in advance.

In the invite to the event we were told that the successful implementation of TTIP would lead to an additional growth in EU GDP of 0.5%. The figure quoted came from an independent study done for the EU commission. I asked Minister Bruton was the predicted growth of 0.5% to happen on an annual basis, a claim he has repeatedly made. He was very clear in saying yes. I asked him again and he repeated his assertion that the figure of 0.5% GDP growth was per year. I asked him a third time just to be sure. He said yes yet again.

Now either Minister Bruton is a bare-faced liar, bent on fooling the public, or he is completely and utterly misguided. Either way this is a worry, given that as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, he is one of Ireland’s most powerful figures on one of the most important issues affecting our country at the moment. You see the study that he is using as propaganda does NOT make the claim that Mr Bruton keeps repeating, that there will be additional GDP growth of 0.5% per year. What the study does actually say is that in the ‘ambitious’ scenario – the most ambitious scenario – there may be additional aggregate growth of 0.48% in GDP by 2027. So in other words the predicted growth is actually over 12 years and not – again as claimed by Mr Bruton – an annual projected growth rate.

To be clear then, the best case scenario is actually 0.04% additional GDP growth per year (0.48/12). The study also say that in a less ambitious scenario, additional growth would be 0.27%, which amounts to 0.023% per year.

My attempts to establish the facts on predicted additional GDP growth did not please Minister Bruton. He accused me of barracking him. You see what I was meant to have done was to go along, shut my mouth and tuck into the coffee-‘n-croissants. Minister Bruton who appeared delighted to meet me at the beginning of the meeting but by the time I had finished my questioning, he couldn’t wait to get rid of me.

What happened next was both comical and sad. The three FG MEPS at the meeting were asked did they have an opinion. Nothing forthcoming. “So what about you Seán (Seán Kelly MEP), you have a keen interest in this” says the Minister – Seán you see is on the European Parliament Committee for International Trade, a crucial committee where TTIP is concerned. Seán’s reply? “Ah, err, um…”. Just so you know.

Later in the morning, Seán’s Committee gave the thumbs up to TTIP and ISDS, a betrayal of the near two million people who signed a petition asking that the ISDS element be removed. Make your own mind up as to whether you think those who are ‘representing’ us on this have even the slightest idea what they’re doing.

I regularly get asked what the hell I am doing in ‘Europe’. Now let me ask you this. Imagine if this was left up to FG? Who would ask these question? Who would look out for the truth?